I’ll be the first to admit that I’m somewhat desensitized to people having airport meltdowns. And that’s despite the fact that I understand that some people are traveling for much more important reasons than I am, be it a funeral, wedding, birth of a child, etc.
But I get the frustration. I really do. What I don’t get, however, are the meltdowns, because they just don’t accomplish anything.
But I think I also figured out why I’ve been somewhat desensitized to all this. I’ve realized that over the past two years I’ve had amazing flight reliability. Like, in 2013 and the first half of 2014, I can’t off the top of my head recall a single major delay I’ve had, and that’s despite flying 600,000+ miles over that time period.
I guess I jinxed myself, because over the past three months I’ve had absolutely horrible, horrible luck. I’ve had delay after delay after delay… after delay. And I by no means “lost it” during any of these delays, but I started to see more of the things that are operationally frustrating as hell as a passenger.
If you know a flight is going to be delayed in advance, why not let passengers know and post a delay early? If you know a flight is canceled, why not staff the rebooking desk with more than one agent? Etc., etc…
Which brings me to today…
I needed to fly from Tampa to New York today, and decided to book American through Chicago. The total travel time was under six hours, which wasn’t horrible. But that was also thanks to a 50 minute connection in Chicago. The good news is that I was supposed to be on the same plane for both segments.
Then we pushed back in Tampa this morning, and there was a problem with the engine. It was a fairly quick fix, and we left about 40 minutes late.
For two thirds of the flight my connecting flight still showed that it would be operated by the same plane I was taking from Tampa, though as we began our descent the departure gate changed. Crap, that means they changed the plane.
In the end we got to the gate at 10:31AM, and my connection was scheduled to depart at 10:40AM from a gate maybe two minutes away (I arrived at H17 and departed from H9).
So I hustled off the plane, and made it to the gate at 10:33AM… only to find the door was already closed, and shortly thereafter the jet bridge was pulled.
There was that initial moment — which I think we can all relate to — where I was really damn frustrated. Like, “really gate agent, you knew I was arriving at a gate close by, and you still had to leave early?” And within another couple of minutes, two other first class passengers coming from Tampa arrived at the gate as well.
And then on the other hand I get it. I get the gate agent’s (and airline’s) perspective. What if it took me a while to show up? If I didn’t show up quickly and they still pushed on-time, would they be able to upgrade someone else into my empty seat? And if not, wouldn’t they be pissing off someone that was on the upgrade list on that flight? And then what if as they were processing the upgrade and offloading me I showed up?
Anyway, I guess the point of my post is to say that flying can be frustrating as hell sometimes. It sucks when you have a confirmed first class seat and end up on a flight several hours later in a seat that’s not even in Main Cabin Extra, let alone first class.
But I also get it from the airline’s perspective. There are so many moving parts to operating an airline. Yes, they could have waited on me. But then should they have waited for the two other first class passengers that showed up two minutes later? And what about economy passengers that may have shown up five minutes later? And what if someone else was coming off another flight that was delayed, should they wait for them as well?
Hopefully everyone else’s weekend travels are going better. Then again, I flew seven miles above the earth’s surface at 600 miles an hour… I guess my travel day actually isn’t that bad…